Limelight believes in ‘Miracles’

Limelight Prods. has purchased a piece of the rock.

The Hollywood-based production company has acquired movie rights to “Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church” for roughly $ 100,000 against $ 500, 000.

Written by former New York Times reporter Samuel G. Freedman, “Upon This Rock” is about the workings of Brooklyn’s Saint Paul Community Baptist Church and the Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood.

In an unusual structure, the acquisition price will split three ways among the church, Freedman and Youngblood.

Brokered by Michael Siegel & Associates Inc., the sale of “Rock” was one of the agency’s “most ardent” submissions of 1992, according to the agent. Siegel sent the project out to every major studio before Limelight snapped up the rights. The company has a first-look deal with Columbia Pictures.

Literary agent Siegel also confirmed that the agency has closed the sale of Russian playwright Edvard Radzinsky’s nonfiction book “The Last Tsar” to producer Lester Persky (“Equus”). Other details of the sale were unavailable.

“Rock” revolves around the day-to-day workings of a church — hardly the stuff of the typical studio commercial property. But Limelight senior veepee Jon Shestack and Columbia Pictures veepee Stephanie Allain were nonetheless drawn to certain aspects of the project.

Shestack explained that Youngblood took over “a small and wounded congregration that gathered primarily for funerals” just over 10 years ago, and transformed it “into a vibrant group of over 5,000.” Youngblood built schools and housing projects in the community.

Harper Collins distributes a first printing of 50,000 copies of “Rock” nationwide this month. Freedman and Youngblood are touring to help pitch the tome.

Also on Limelight’s development slate are director Steve Barron’s “Prince Charming” and Reuben Gonzalez’s “Nydia’s Chuletas” (aka “Nydia’s Pork Chops”) (Daily Variety, Aug. 18).

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